NTSB report released on deadly Dare County plane crash

OUTER BANKS, N.C. – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its report on the Cessna 150J, NR0111, crash that happened in Dare County, North Carolina.

According to the report from NTSB, the crash happened on June 27 when a single-engine plane with one person in it crashed near Dare County Regional Airport. 

The pilot who died in the crash was 35-year-old Daniel Morgan Lane.

Lane’s plane was towing a banner when the incident occurred.

Below is the full NTSB report: 

On June 27, 2018, about 1026 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150J, N60111, registered to Outer Banks Seaplanes LLC. and operated by Island Ariel Ads, crashed in a wooded area in Manteo, North Carolina. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 banner tow flight. The local flight originated from Dare County Regional Airport (MQI), Manteo, North Carolina.

A ground crew member was working in the banner pick up area and witnessed the events that transpired just before the accident. He initially watched as the accident airplane approached and lined up with the pickup poles. He noted that the airplane was very low and estimated the tail of the airplane to be about 5 feet off the ground. As the airplane flew through the pickup area, the pickup loop caught around the left elevator. He recalled the pilot making a radio call to the ground crew stating, “I can’t turn, it won’t release.” He watched as the airplane continued north and was barely over the tops of the trees. The airplane made a climbing left turn, and it seemed like the wind was pushing it to the left. He watched as the airplane disappeared behind the tree line.

Another witness stated that the winds on the morning of the accident were a crosswind to runway 23. The witness did not see the pickup of the banner but saw the airplane as it climbed out to midfield with the tow rope wrapped around the left horizontal stabilizer. He and the other ground crew members watched as the airplane reached the end of the runway while yawing to the left. The airplane made climbing left turn to an altitude about 250 feet before it appeared to enter an aerodynamic stall. The airplane then descended into the trees just to the left of the departure end of the runway 23.

The pilot, age 35, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He held a Federal Aviation Administration second-class medical certificate, with limitations for corrective lenses. The pilot reported that his flight experience included 150 total hours of flight experience and 0 hours in last six months as of his medical examination on February 12, 2018. The pilot’s logbook was not recovered; therefore, his total flight experience at the time of the accident could not be determined.

The airplane was manufactured in 1969 by Cessna as model 150J. It had been modified by a supplemental type certificate and was powered by a Lycoming O-360 series 180-horsepower engine, and equipped with a McCauley fixed-pitch propeller. Review of maintenance records revealed the airplane was last inspected in accordance with an annual inspection on June 19, 2017. The engine’s time since overhaul was 1224.64 hours and the airframe total time was 11,868.70 hours.

At 1035, the recorded weather at MQI included winds from 120° at 10 knots, gusting 14 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, and scattered clouds at 1,900 feet above ground level (AGL). The temperature was 27°Celsius (C), the dew point was 22°C, and the altimeter setting was 30.27 inches of mercury.

The main wreckage was located approximately 400 feet from the centerline of runway 35 on a 242° heading. The airplane impacted treetops at approximately 75 feet AGL and 400 feet from the departure end of the runway 17 centerline. The wreckage path was 124 feet long on a 242° magnetic heading. The airplane came to rest inverted, facing the direction of travel in between trees adjacent to the airport perimeter. The airplane sustained extensive compression damage to the forward fuselage, reducing the cockpit volume. The right wing had trailing edge tree damage at the flap and aileron as well as leading edge crush damage throughout the length of the wing. The left wing was still attached to the airplane with the part of the outboard section separated. The right elevator separated from the horizontal stabilizer. The left horizontal stabilizer was observed with the banner tow rope wrapped around the leading edge. All flight control surfaces were observed at the accident site. Flight control cable continuity was established from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces.

Examination of the cockpit revealed the instrument panel was impact damaged, which prevented an examination of the instruments. Examination of the engine revealed that it was impact damaged. The engine remained attached to the airframe at the tubular mount. The engine was displaced aft and toward the left. The propeller remained attached to the engine flange. The propeller spinner was fragmented. The engine was partially disassembled to facilitate an examination. The engine was rotated by turning the crankshaft flange and continuity of the crankshaft to the rear gears and to the valve train was confirmed. Compression and suction were observed on all four engine cylinders. The interiors of the cylinders were viewed using a lighted borescope and no anomalies were noted.

The carburetor was fractured across the throttle bore and impact-separated from the engine. The throttle cable was broken and remained attached to the carburetor throttle control arm. The mixture control cable wire was separated from the carburetor mixture control arm. The carburetor induction air box was partially crushed, and the carburetor heat control cable separated from the air box control arm. The positions of the control arms before impact could not be determined. In the cockpit, the throttle control knob was aft, the mixture control knob was aft, and the carburetor heat control knob was forward.

The carburetor was partially disassembled, and no damage was noted to the internal components. Blue colored liquid with an odor consistent with aviation fuel was observed in the carburetor float bowl. The carburetor fuel inlet screen was free of debris. The engine driven fuel pump remained attached to the engine and no damage was noted. The hose from the pump to the carburetor was separated at the carburetor fuel inlet fitting and aviation fuel was expelled from the hose as the engine was rotated. The pump was not removed. The auxiliary electric fuel boost pump remained attached to the firewall and no damage was noted.

Both magnetos remained attached to the engine and no damage was noted. The engine was rotated by turning the crankshaft flange and spark was observed from all four ignition leads of both magnetos. The magnetos were not removed. The spark plugs were examined using a Champion Check-A-Plug chart. The lower spark plugs exhibited gray color and worn normal condition. The upper spark plugs were not removed but their electrodes were viewed using a lighted borescope and exhibited gray coloration and worn normal condition.

Oil was observed in the engine. The oil suction screen and the oil filter media were free of metallic debris. Both oil coolers and the associated hoses were secure.

Examination of the propeller revealed both blades were damaged and remained attached to the crankshaft flange. Both blades were bent aft and had chordwise scoring throughout the blade span.